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Although throughout history there have been two crowns known as ‘St Edward’s Crown’, the one currently on exhibition in the Tower of London dates back to 1661 and was produced the year after the restoration of the monarchy.
The crown is used at the coronation ceremony and is placed on the head of the incoming monarch by the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, due to its incredible weight of 2.23kg, both King George VI and Elizabeth II replaced it with the lighter weight and more comfortable Imperial State Crown before leaving the Abbey at the end of the coronation.
Made of solid gold, such was the cost of precious gemstones at the time that the crown only featured hired gems, rented from jewellers several weeks before the coronation and given back afterwards.
From the coronation of Anne 1702 until the early 19th century, the crown was not actually worn by the incoming king or queens (not surprising as it was so heavy), but was carried separately to the ceremony as a symbolic object. In 1902, Edward VII decided that he would wear the crown for his coronation and commissioned its restoration. However, on the day of his coronation Edward was suffering with appendicitis and was unable to wear the hefty crown!
Prior to the coronation of George V in 1911, Garrard the Crown Jewellers were employed for the first time in the crown’s history to permanently set over 400 genuine gemstones. According to “The Official Guide Book – The Crown Jewels”, Garrards were responsible for ‘removing the antique enamelled mounts, all the pastes (stones) and resetting them with semi precious stones’. These included Amethysts, Sapphires, Tourmalines, Topaz and Citrines.
GIA qualified Gemmologists
Members of the British Jewellery Association
Members of the Coloured Gemstone Assocation